Friday, 6 November 2009

Light at the end of this tunnel

Well, I survived a difficult week, and the silver lining has been to get upgraded on my flight from Dhaka to Dubai on Emirates. I had a little chat with the check-in guy about cricket, and I am dressed smartly casual, and hey presto! Cricket also saved me from having to bribe the security guys on the way into the airport. At first I said I was a businessman when they x-rayed my bags, and this got them interested in the contents of my bags. As they persisted in trying to find out if I was a businessman (their English wasn't great), I decided to tell them I was here for the cricket between Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, and straight away they understood the word "cricket" and let me straight through. As it happens, some of the Zimbabwe squad are flying home from the tour today on my flight, and are sat across the room from me here in the lounge. I'm afraid I don't recognise them, and from their slightly portly shape, they may be part of the back-room staff!
The work was difficult, with some quite officious bureaucrats trying to catch me out about the equipment we've provided, but I was able to mostly rebuff them. We did have one problem caused by rats or mice nibbling the cables on an $18000 scanner whilst it's spent over a year in different warehouses! $20 to a local electrician got that fixed though...
The normal staff - not the top brass - were very polite and helpful, as was everyone in the hotel, and the climate was lovely, warm without being too hot. It's a very poor place, but I wasn't hassled on the street at all by beggars.
Skype has been great, although I've had to wait up until after 1am to speak with Olga and Lara, but it was worth it.
OK, time to stop laptopping, I seem to have been in front of this thing a lot this week. Time to get my things together and look forward to a glass of bubbly on the plane! It doesn't happen often, after all.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

En Route to Bangladesh

Well, I'm established in my hotel room in Dhaka, it was a long old day of travelling. Nearly 7 hours from London to Dubai on Saturday evening, then throw in a four-hour time difference, meant I had a Burger King for breakfast at Dubai airport at "8am" which was 4am as far as my stomach was concerned. I did take this photograph there, if you look above the cockpit of the aeroplane, you'll just about make out the Burj Dubai in the distance, what will be the tallest building in the world when it's completed (very soon!).
The London to Dubai flight was very nice, probably the best flight in economy I've had, with a large seat-back TV, showing films on demand and allowing you to create your own playlist of music from hundreds of CDs; I spent 45 minutes making my list of 47 tracks, which meant that between listening to those songs and watching Tony Scott's version of "The Taking of Pelham 123" ("it's not a remake!" - his words), I didn't get any sleep. Then it was a 4 hour flight from Dubai to Dhaka, over the Persian Gulf (flat and wet), central India (flat and green) and into Bangladesh (flat and green/wet). This was on an older plane, and it was full, mostly of Bangladeshis, but with a fair smattering of Western NGO people. The only excitement on this flight (0ther than asking for a Budweiser at 9.30am (local time, 5.30am tummy time)) was that the Bangladeshi man I was sat next to was hauled out of his seat for a rather stern dressing-down by the chief steward for smoking in the toilet.
Immigration at Dhaka was quick and civilised, helped by the fact I'm here to work for the national Oil company, once I dropped that name, I was expedited through the beaurocracy, but this didn't help with the 30 minute wait for my hold luggage. It was rush-hour when I left the airport (now 5.30pm local time, 10.30am tummy time) which meant the journey from the airport to the hotel took an hour and 15 minutes rather than the 15 minutes it would otherwise take.
I have just missed all the international cricketers who were staying at the Sonargaon. My boss, who is here already, saw the England U-19 team last night and this morning, and the Bangladeshi and Zimbabwe One Day teams, both of whom were staying here until this morning, when they moved down to Chittagong for their next two matches.
We managed to have a beer in the disco between 11pm and midnight local time (4pm - 5pm tummy time) but now it's time to retire for the night. I got up on Saturday morning at 9am, so I've not slept for 33 hours, and jetlag means that I'm less tired now than I was 5 hours ago when I got to the hotel, for some reason.
The internet connection here is perfectly OK, and I had a nice Skype conversation with Lara & Olga earlier, complete with Lara kissing the laptop screen at home. I think the 7 hour time difference might make more Skype calls awkward, but we'll see tomorrow how it goes.
Yaaaaawnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn, OK, I'm tired again now, night night.
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